Neural circuits underlying the generation of theta oscillations

J Physiol Paris. 2012 May-Aug;106(3-4):81-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2011.09.007. Epub 2011 Sep 22.


Theta oscillations represent the neural network configuration underlying active awake behavior and paradoxical sleep. This major EEG pattern has been extensively studied, from physiological to anatomical levels, for more than half a century. Nevertheless the cellular and network mechanisms accountable for the theta generation are still not fully understood. This review synthesizes the current knowledge on the circuitry involved in the generation of theta oscillations, from the hippocampus to extra hippocampal structures such as septal complex, entorhinal cortex and pedunculopontine tegmentum, a main trigger of theta state through direct and indirect projections to the septal complex. We conclude with a short overview of the perspectives offered by technical advances for deciphering more precisely the different neural components underlying the emergence of theta oscillations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Midline Thalamic Nuclei / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rats
  • Septal Nuclei / physiology
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology